I always think “Snugglepot “or “Cuddlepie”. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are the main characters in a classic book from my childhood. They are not cats but fictitious Gumnut babies. The book is The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, written and illustrated by May Gibbs.
So, why does a sleeping cat make me think of Gumnuts? I am not entirely sure. My mind works in strange ways, but there are three possibilities. The first is the cuteness factor. Here are Snugglepot and Cuddlepie sleeping in their” second-hand houses”.
How cute are those illustrations!
The second possibility is to do with comfort, or a type of security blanket factor.
My siblings and I were lucky to grow up with the comfort and security of bedtime stories. I don’t remember Snugglepot and Cuddlepie being read to me but I do remember being cuddled up next to my sister, at bedtime, and reading it to her. I associate Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with sweet and gentle times and the notion “That all will be well”. Just as the sight of a peacefully resting cat reassures me that there must be a rightfulness to life, even if I can’t always see it.
The third possibility is the joy factor. Both cat and book make me smile for the sheer joy of their existence. How can one frown at the sight of a sleeping cat? How can one not be amused and entertained by the humour and sensibility in May Gibbs’ text. Here is an example of her writing; ” Gumnut Editors generally write backwards, because they say it takes longer to read that way, and the people think they are getting more news.” (Even back then the Press was trying to pull the wool over our eyes!)
And here is a piece from Snugglepot’s story. “Down, down, down he tumbled, right through the window into an Ant’s house. A tired night-nurse saw him coming, but before she could do anything he had crashed in and killed several babies. This was a blessing for Snugglepot, but it was sadly hard on the baby ants. “I’m so sorry,” said Snugglepot. “It can’t be helped,” said the Nurse. “What will their mother say?”, asked Snugglepot, brushing tears from his eyes. ” She won’t know,” said the Nurse, ‘ we have three hundred babies in the house.”
And I love the request from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at the beginning of the book which reads ” Humans, Please be kind to all Bush Creatures and don’t pull flowers up by the roots.”
May Gibbs( 1877-1969)( http://www.nutcote.org/) was Australia’s first full-time, professionally trained children’s book illustrator. She developed a uniquely Australian fantasy world . The first book about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was published in 1918. May Gibbs not only brought great stories to children but, in her will, she remembered them by bequeathing the copyright from the designs of her bush characters and her stories to Northcott Disability Services and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance of New South Wales, Australia. The rest of her estate was left to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.